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Oct 23, 1998

Bikes for truant officers

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In a nation where so many people value education as a means to improving their lives, it is shocking to realize that four thousand children miss school at least three days a week. It may seem like a huge problem to combat, but the Truancy Program begun by the Ministry of Education in September aims to get at least some of these children back in the classroom. To help the truant officers get around the city, today B.T.L. handed over a few sets of wheels. The transportation may not have AC or power steering but it will no doubt help get the job done.

The gift of seven green bicycles is part of B.T.L.’s support towards the education of Belizean children. According to Ediberto Tesucum, B.T.L.’s Chief Executive Officer, they are helping children to stay in school.

Ediberto Tesucum, B.T.L., Chief Executive Officer

“It basically has to do with our belief in supporting education, culture and sports and when we look at the truancy program itself, our understanding is that it is to help the children who are walking the streets, to help them get back into schools or some program where they can receive some education. And we thought that this was a worthwhile effort that really needed some consideration, so we decided that to help the ministry when they ask us to help them in this respect.”

Cordel Hyde, Minister of Education

“It’s very important. Our school attendant officers have been working for the last two months without the use of bicycles or any kind of transportation. We know that the city has been expanding at an alarming rate and we also know that there are an excess of eleven thousand children enrolled at our various schools throughout the city and out of that, at least thirty-eight hundred miss school at least three days per week.”

Q: “Mr. Reyes, from the cases that you all have dealt with so far, why is it that our children are not attending school?”

Oscar Reyes, Coordinator, Truancy Program

“There are several reasons as to why our children are not attending school. One of the main ones is economics. Parents are saying that they cannot afford textbooks, uniforms and even food and this is information that the school attendant officers brought us.”

Today’s donation was not only an added boost to school children, but the officers, themselves were most happy to ride off on their new transportation.

Erlet Gordon, Truant Officer, Belize City

“Doing the job on foot was difficult because we had kids from different areas, say like St. Martins and we had kids from port and it was hard getting to houses in real crowded areas. So you know, doing the job on foot was really hard.”

The bikes were purchased from Hop Sing for twelve hundred dollars. Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

Reyes says the program has been helping out of school children by providing them with textbooks, exercise books and other school supplies as well as getting them enrolled in their school’s feeding program.

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